- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2020

President Trump told the head of the White House Correspondents Association “you will never make it” during an often-combative coronavirus briefing Monday night in which the president also said he’s managed the crisis too well for Democrats to beat him in November.

“You’re a third-rate reporter,” the president berated ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl, president of the WHCA.

The daily news conference got heated when Mr. Karl pressed Mr. Trump about an inspector general’s report about a backlog of coronavirus tests at hospitals. The president had asked another journalist to tell him the name of the inspector general, and Mr. Karl identified the official as Christi Grimm, principal deputy IG at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The president then asked when she was appointed, and Mr. Karl said she had taken her current post under Mr. Trump.

The president persisted, asking, “How long has that person served in government?” Mr. Karl said he didn’t know.

But a short time later, Mr. Karl returned to the subject and told the president that Ms. Grimm “did serve in the previous administration.”

“Oh! You didn’t tell me that,” Mr. Trump said in a prosecutorial tone. “She did serve in the previous administration… you mean the Obama administration. See, there’s a typical fake news deal.”

He said to Mr. Karl with disdain, “What you just said is a disgrace. You will never make it.”

Adm. Brett Giroir of the U.S. Public Health Service said the IG’s report dated from March 24, so the information was out of date.

The president also said Democrats view his handling of the crisis as a campaign issue, and he vowed not to let it bring down his presidency.

“They want to make Trump look as bad as they can, because they want to try and win an election that they shouldn’t be allowed to win, based on the fact we have done a great job,” Mr. Trump said. “We had the greatest economy in the world, and I’ll do it a second time. We got artificially stopped by a virus that nobody ever thought possible. And we’ve handled it and we’ve built a team, and we’ve built an apparatus that’s been unbelievable.”

The president said he conducts the nightly news conferences, sometimes lasting up to two hours or more, in part because he wants to counter the Democrats and the news media’s portrayal of his management.

“One of the reasons I do these news conferences, because if I didn’t, they would believe fake news,” he said of the public. “We can’t let them believe fake news. They see us up here [at the press room podium], they see us with admirals, they see us with this talent. They see the job that [Vice President] Mike Pence has done, which has been an unbelievable job. I put him there. I thought Mike would do well, he’s done much better than well, and he gets along with people.”

Mr. Trump added, “I think much better than I do.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide